Friday, 11 November 2011

I Remember

My Grandfather, James Mitchell, joined the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War.  After some time serving as a flight instructor in the Canadian prairies he was sent overseas in November 1942 to fly Lancaster bombers over Europe. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and the Bar to the DFC during his wartime service.  I remember him telling me that the night before D-Day he was flying a bombing mission over Europe, and that upon returning over the English Channel in early morning they saw hordes of aircraft flying in the opposite direction and knew then that the invasion was on.  Happily, he came safely home in 1945.  After the war, he continued his career in the Air Force until his retirement.
I remember.
Jim Mitchell (left) outside Buckingham Palace after receiving the DFC

Sacrifices were made and service rendered on the home front too.  My Grandmother, May Mitchell, married my Grandfather on November 14th, 1942.   The wedding was originally scheduled for the end of the month, until my Grandmother received a brief telegram advising her to move the wedding date ahead by two weeks.  Unspoken in the telegram, it was understood it could mean only one thing:  my Grandfather was being sent overseas.  Indeed, they moved the wedding ahead and were able to spend a week-long honeymoon together before he left for Europe.  It would be several years until they would be together again.  As men were sent overseas, women stepped in across Canada to do men's jobs, while they waited for husbands, brothers and fathers to return home .. or not.  In 1945, my Grandmother and a friend went to a farm in Cutknife Saskatchewan to help stook wheat. 
I remember.
May Mitchell in Cutknife, Saskatchewan, 1945

My Grandfather's boyhood chum, Albert Glendenning, also joined the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, though he was a navigator instead of a pilot.  Sadly, he did not come home. He died on June 13, 1944 at the age of 30 years and is buried in the Canada Cemetery at Tilloy-les-Cambrai in France.  (See his headstone). He was survived by his parents, James and Olive Glendenning of Islington, Ontario. In 1947, my Grandparents named their firstborn child Glenn Albert.
I remember.

Mr. & Mrs. Glendenning holding
Glenn Albert Mitchell, 1947 
Albert in civilian clothes,
wearing Jim Mitchell's cap, 1941


  1. Lovely tribute, Marianne. It was very well written, and great to read- thank you for sharing!

  2. Ditto, Marianne. Thank you